Attractive models solicit bone marrow donors in Massachusetts

A female model.

If she asked men whether they wanted to donate bone marrow and be a hero in a child's life, most would likely reply "Yes." (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/wlodi/Wikipedia)

The power of a pretty face and attractive presentation can start wars, as Helen did for the Trojan War. They can also help solicit bone marrow donations, as University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Care Inc. has discovered. A recent campaign placed attractive models in malls, at sporting events and in other places where a sales pitch for bone marrow donation can be presented, reports the Associated Press.

Bone marrow donations solicited via unusual means

According to reports, models representing the Massachusetts health care company have been quite successful in directing passersby to submit to DNA testing via cheek swab for potential bone marrow matches for patients in need. The campaign has been so successful that authorities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are paying attention, to the insurance billing in particular. The DNA tests are estimated to cost about $100 each and the UMass group has reportedly been billing insurance companies more than $4,000 each. Aside from the potential insurance fraud, there are concerns that guidelines were not observed for those potential donors who would fail to qualify because of age or other health concerns.

Some feel the models were merely a diversion

While there is nothing legally wrong with recruiting models to solicit bone marrow donors, the problems with insurance and not properly advising potential donors have Massachusetts Senior Assistant Attorney General Jim Boffetti worried. UMass Memorial lab in Worcester, Mass., paid a Boston modeling agency as much as $4 million for use of the models over an 18-month span. Instances of what appear to be insurance overbilling prompted UMass Memorial Hospital and the Caitlin Raymond registry to issue a written statement in which the termination of the models program was announced and that billing practices are being “reviewed.”

None of the donors recruited by the models campaign will have to pay for their DNA test, according to UMMass Memorial. This is consistent with what potential donors they were initially told.


Associated Press

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